The Problem with our Pursuit for Perfection and the Life-Changing Practice of Good Enough’


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    Expecting too much of ourselves

    I was chatting with a colleague today and she said she hadn’t completed a task to ‘her standards’. I enquired what the standards were. They existed in her mind but not on paper and not in writing. She'd said: ‘It has to be neat, look professional, be better than anything I’ve ever done for them before, be the best I can do, be me at my best.’

    Do you see how difficult it will be to reach each of these unmeasurable, undefinable targets?

    As she's working on her task she’s also not so complimentary about her progress. She was denigrating and rejecting it. ‘It’s just not good enough yet’, she said.

    And here it is. This is perfectionism; the ’not good enough yet’ drug.

    The drive we have to make things better because we wrongly believe: - people are paying more attention than they are, - that it matters more than it really does, and - that what we’ve done so far won’t cut it. We're too critical of our ideas, work and success.

    We berate, scold, criticise and reprimand ourselves. Repeatedly. Would we do this to another human? This harshly? I doubt it. It's time to firstly define the standard... and then be kinder to ourselves.

    Q: What are you 'beating yourself up' over right now? 


    Worrying if you're doing it 'right'

    Worrying if you're doing it 'right'. When we write something, share, do, show, try something new, we can be worried about whether we’re doing it ... ‘right’.

    What is ‘right’ anyway? Is it about meeting a standard or expectation ... our standard or expectation? Or is it about meeting the standards and expectations of others?

    It’s surely a conditioning from our upbringing or our school years where the reward and validation was for correct and right.

    Our fear of getting it wrong can be powerful indeed: not wanting to look foolish, not wanting to be seen as unprofessional or not wanting our reputation to take a hit.

    Rather, today, we can be encouraged and rewarded more by our effort, by trying and by getting out of inertia - that state of doing nothing or perhaps, nothing new.

    If we stay safe and only do the things we do well - our party tricks - we don’t learn. And most of all we don’t adapt so we stay relevant, employable, progressing, doing meaningful things. Worry less about 'right' and focus more on getting going and improving or iterating over time.

    Is there something you're worrying about doing 'right' at the moment? 


    Everything doesn't have to be amazing!

    Everything doesn’t have to be a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Writing a blog, preparing a report, delivering a presentation? Tidying the cupboard, cleaning your desk, working out what to wear today? Watch out folks! We pile an incredible pressure on ourselves in today’s crazy world, trying to make the quality of what we do amazing.

    But do you know what? Everything doesn’t have to be amazing.

    Some things yes, but everything, nope. So cut it out. Cut out the stuff that you’re putting extra effort into trying to make it ‘amazing’ because you could be on a path to never-never land that doesn’t deliver an amazing feeling or the hoped-for amazing results.

    Rather, set a standard that you’re going for and then when you’ve reached it, you’re done.

    Oh, and save your amazings for weddings, birthdays, celebrations, holidays, experiences, special things, time with people … whatever the things are that are really, truly important to you in this life of yours.

    >>Are you trying to make something a little too amazing right now... when 'good enough' would be good enough?


    Oh the waste of unnecessary work

    Oh, the waste of unnecessary work! We can be head down, diligently working away on a project or task and yet not know when it’s time to be done with it, to test it or share it or press 'go', launch or go live.

    That's because it takes hindsight for us to make sense of things.

    It could be that some of what we have done may have been a waste. Some of our time and effort may have been wasted. When we are deep in it we are too close and connected, too attached to it. We can be attached to the expectations we have or the standards we think we need to reach or the end results we think we are reaching for.

    So how do we get hindsight sooner? How do you get yourself in a position where you can look back on what you’ve done ... sooner?

    Put it out there, pilot, test and trial it. Even if it's not done yet. Then you’ll get feedback and insights and you’ll make sense of that. That’s hindsight.

    Most people can press 'go' sooner on a project or task or piece of work. Sooner than they think. Are you holding back from pressing 'go'?

    >> Where could you ‘go live’ with something today so the power of valuable hindsight arrives sooner?


    An empty email box is the wrong measure of productivity


    And likely a waste of time. I think it’s crazy that we would try to get to the bottom of our email inboxes and empty them as a priority.

    Yes there are are fans of it, religious fanatics of getting to 'zero'. It’s an accomplishment indeed ... and damn it if we humans aren’t fired up, inspired and encouraged by progress we make. It makes us feel neat and tidy and organised and we know what's going on.

    The control freak in us loves the control we gain over all that information, flicking it off to folders or ticking it off for filing or trash. But here's the question: how are you progressing on your goals, projects and initiatives? The stuff that really matters? I get it that an empty email inbox might seriously matter to you.

    But might you possibly, maybe, potentially, be using the time and activity of "controlling" email as a distraction or procrastination from time spent on other more worthy, worthwhile and noble projects?

    I'm not suggesting ignoring your email; but what's the measure of success with all your other projects?

    Reply all with your thoughts! ๐Ÿ˜œ Are you a fan of living in your email inbox or are you facing out, making progress on other projects?